Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm CT, and will be televised by CBS.
Below, I give my analysis of each phase of the game, key match-ups, what to expect and a score prediction.
Phase 1: Alabama Offense vs. LSU Defense
Alabama WR Juilo Jones vs. LSU CB Patrick Peterson
Alabama’s Interior 3 O-Linemen vs. LSU DT Drake Nevis
Alabama’s RT (Either McCullough or Fluker) vs. LSU’s Rush DEs
Alabama has been reactionary on offense. If defenses load the box they throw, if they play zone and don’t crowd the line of scrimmage they run. Nick Saban has talked about being aggressive on offense. To me, what that means is the Crimson Tide offense needs to dictate to the defense what it wants to do. If Alabama is physical with a commitment to the running game early and often, along with a down-the-field passing game, LSU, even with a terrific and physical defense, won’t be able to stop Alabama enough to win. Establishing the run game early should help the o-line play with the attitude and physicality that wears teams down over 4 quarters.
LSU has what South Carolina and Florida had in games vs. the Tide this season, great corners that coordinators are willing to leave on an island against the Bama WRs. Alabama wasn’t willing or able to throw the ball effectively down the field to counteract that. Alabama’s passing game was better vs. Tennessee. Will Alabama throw the ball up to Julio Jones and let him go make a play? If they don’t LSU will have no incentive to do anything other than selling-out to stop the dangerous Alabama running game of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. I think this is a game
Phase 2: LSU Offense vs. Alabama Defense
LSU’s OTs vs. Alabama LBs/Rush Des Courtney Upshaw & Dont’a Hightower
LSU RB Stevan Ridley vs. Alabama SS Mark Barron
LSU QBs vs. Alabama FS Robert Lester
You have to start with LSU’s quarterback play. It’s flat-out been terrible once again this season. LSU can’t utilize it’s pretty good perimeter players because of Jefferson and Lee. Lee has been better, so it will be interesting to see if LSU changes things up off the bye week and tries to throw more against the Tide secondary. If I was LSU, I would be committed to running the football. Alabama’s run defense has been good overall but not the dominant force of recent years.
Alabama’s defense will benefit from the bye week quite a bit. Getting Marcel Dareus, Courtney Upshaw, DeQuan Menzie and others closer to 100% will give Alabama more versatility and explosion on defense. I also would not be surprised to see the coaches implement more complex schemes now that the young players have more experience and success under their belts. I think that will mean more blitzes dialed-up which will turn into LSU mistakes.
Phase 3: Special Teams
Both teams are great in the return game, average in punting, solid in place kicking percentage, similar in kickoff distance and pretty good in the coverage units. Alabama P Cody Mandell has to be on point because Peterson will make you pay for a short line drive punt.
I think there’s not team in the SEC and arguably in college football that needed the bye week like Alabama did. The physicality and mental strain that the team sustains throughout the season wears on you after eight straight weeks. I expect Alabama to look fresh and play with energy and intensity. LSU is very good so I still don’t expect a blow-out but Alabama is more talented and better coached (yes, better than the genius Mad Hatter Les Miles) than LSU, overall.
Alabama 27 LSU 17
Check back after the game for a complete recap of the game with observations and immediate analysis of the game, along with game notes.
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